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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2015-295
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2015-295
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Review article 15 Jan 2016

Review article | 15 Jan 2016

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It has been under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS). A final paper in NHESS is not foreseen.

Epistemic uncertainties and natural hazard risk assessment – Part 2: Different natural hazard areas

K. J. Beven1,2, S. Almeida3, W. P. Aspinall4, P. D. Bates5, S. Blazkova6, E. Borgomeo7, K. Goda4, J. C. Phillips4, M. Simpson7, P. J. Smith1, D. B. Stephenson8, T. Wagener3,9, M. Watson4, and K. L. Wilkins4 K. J. Beven et al.
  • 1Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK
  • 2Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
  • 3Department of Engineering, Bristol University, Bristol, UK
  • 4School of Earth Sciences, Bristol University, Bristol, UK
  • 5School of Geographical Sciences, Bristol University, Bristol, UK
  • 6T. G. Masaryk Water Resource Institute, Prague, Czech Republic
  • 7Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University, UK
  • 8Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Exeter University, Exeter, UK
  • 9Cabot Institute, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

Abstract. This paper discusses how epistemic uncertainties are considered in a number of different natural hazard areas including floods, landslides and debris flows, dam safety, droughts, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic ash clouds and pyroclastic flows, and wind storms. In each case it is common practice to treat most uncertainties in the form of aleatory probability distributions but this may lead to an underestimation of the resulting uncertainties in assessing the hazard, consequences and risk. It is suggested that such analyses might be usefully extended by looking at different scenarios of assumptions about sources of epistemic uncertainty, with a view to reducing the element of surprise in future hazard occurrences. Since every analysis is necessarily conditional on the assumptions made about the nature of sources of epistemic uncertainty it is also important to follow the guidelines for good practice suggested in the companion Part 1 by setting out those assumptions in a condition tree.

K. J. Beven et al.
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K. J. Beven et al.
K. J. Beven et al.
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Short summary
Uncertainties in natural hazard risk assessment are generally dominated by the sources arising from lack of knowledge or understanding of the processes involved. This is Part 2 of 2 papers reviewing these epistemic uncertainties and covers different areas of natural hazards including landslides and debris flows, dam safety, droughts, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic ash clouds and pyroclastic flows, and wind storms. It is based on the work of the UK CREDIBLE research consortium.
Uncertainties in natural hazard risk assessment are generally dominated by the sources arising...
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